The 2019 season came to an end for the Milwaukee Brewers after one playoff game. The Brewers choked away a late lead in the National League Wild Card winner-take-all showdown and were sent home packing a year after being one win away from a World Series berth. Overall it was a disappointing campaign for Milwaukee. They had too much talent to just disappear after a single game, though they were lucky to even make the playoffs in the first place.
Because the Brewers season is over, it’s time to look back at the preseason projections and see where the models went wrong and where they went right. So let’s review the season by looking over the projections from The First Out At Third’s own system (RW23), Steamer, and ZiPS. In 2017 — RW23’s debut season — RW23 was fairly accurate with its hitter projections, while it struggled with pitchers. I only projected hitters in 2018 due to a computer malfunction, and RW23 fell behind Steamer and ZiPS. It’ll be interesting to see how well RW23 holds its own in its third season.
You can find the original 2019 hitter projections here.
RW23 accurately projected Grandal’s weighted on-base average and number of home runs, while nailing his batting average and OPS. RW23 is the clear winner here, as is Grandal after a fantastic season.
The three projection systems all failed to predict Aguilar’s offensive fall. The Brewers ultimately traded him to the Tampa Bay Rays, and while he hit better, his power from 2018 remained gone. No winners here.
2B/3B Mike Moustakas
It was a tight race, but RW23 comes away with a narrow victory, due to it more accurately projecting Moustakas’ power numbers. Playing a full year at Miller Park sure helped his power, as Moustakas’ 35 home runs were the second most of his career.
3B Travis Shaw
Let’s forget I predicted Shaw would make the All-Star roster this year. Let’s just wipe that from our memories because this was a lost season for Shaw. He spent a lot of time in the minors and looked completely lost when he was with the Brewers. No one foresaw this kind of downfall. Nobody’s a winner.
Arcia was the worst hitter in baseball in 2019, and it may be time to question if his bat will ever play at a league-average level. RW23 takes home another win, though it was extremely close to being a three-way tie.
OF Ryan Braun
Another win for RW23, as Braun enjoyed a offensive resurgence. Steamer and ZiPS underestimated his power numbers, giving RW23 the clear and decisive victory.
OF Lorenzo Cain
This contest was close between ZiPS and Steamer, though neither projection system saw Cain’s offense falling as much as it did. Cain dealt with injuries throughout the season and was nowhere near the hitter he was for the Brewers in 2018. The Brewers will need him to bounce back in a big way.
All three projection systems thought Yelich would regress in 2019, a word Yelich grew to hate. And Yelich proved everyone wrong, as he set career marks in almost every offensive category. RW23 picks up another victory here, due to its more bullish projection.
1B Eric Thames
Because Aguilar forgot how to hit, Thames saw more playing time and eventually took over the starting job completely when Aguilar was traded. As a result, put together a very solid season. His wRC+ of 116 was well above league average and his on-base skills returned after dipping a bit in 2018. However, he’s now on the free agent market after the Brewers declined his $7.5 million option. ZiPS takes home the win here, as it believed in Thames’ 2017 performance more than his 2018 performance.
OF Ben Gamel
Steamer is finally on the board! Gamel turned out to be a nice bench piece for the Brewers, but he showed little extra-base power and his strikeouts skyrocketed. He should likely resume is bench role next season.
INF Hernan Perez
Winner: Three-way tie
The projections were so similar to each other that it’s basically impossible to pick a sole winner, so I’ve giving the victory to all three projection systems. Perez isn’t fun to project and he’s not fun to watch, so it makes sense.
INF Cory Spangenberg
Steamer takes home an easy victory here by correctly predicting Spangenberg’s role and low power numbers. Spangenberg is a free agent and will likely move on from Milwaukee.
Steamer’s projected plate appearances for Pina were far too low, but everything else was relatively on point, earning it a victory. Pina will return to the Brewers in 2020, though his role — with Grandal’s likely departure — is yet to be determined.
RW23: 6 wins
Steamer: 4 wins
ZiPS: 3 wins